Torre Abbey Museum, Historic House, Gallery, Garden and Cafe

Est. in 1196, Torre Abbey is a museum of history and art housed in an Ancient Scheduled Monument on the iconic South Devon coast.

Based in Torquay, this family friendly museum is a centre for creativity and curiosity - initiating cultural conversations and inspiring local life through a seasonal programme of exhibitions, events and activities across visual arts, history and live performance.

Kids and teens up to 18 years go free, and the 1196 Club offers adult membership with unlimited visits from just £16 a year. Reasons aplenty to visit today.

It would be impossible to find a more appropriate showcase for Torbay’s art collection than historic Torre Abbey, home to some of theTorbay's leading citizens for over 800 years. The present appearance of the Galleries at Torre Abbey is largely due to the Cary family who, during the 18th century, refashioned the Abbey as a magnificent country house. Like all country houses, one of the Abbey’s functions was to provide an appropriate setting for its owners’ pictures and portraits, which as well as being intrinsically beautiful served to underline the family’s social standing by demonstrating their wealth, taste, patronage of the arts, and venerable family pedigree.

The present art collection is largely the result of donations or bequests made by local people since 1930, when the Council purchased Torre Abbey from the Cary family and turned it into an art gallery.

The Abbey's permanent collection is particularly rich in 19th century works. These generally reflect the taste of the genteel families, many from London, who bought villas in Torquay during the 19th century, in the days when it served as a fashionable winter resort. The collections include landscapes, marine and genre paintings by British artists, concentrating in particular on views of South Devon and its coastal waters, and works by local artists. The Friends of Torre Abbey was formed in 1992 to raise funds for the benefit of the collections, and has assisted with a number of recent purchases as well as making a substantial contribution to the restoration fund.

Torquay's Oldest Building

During a massive three-year restoration project some stunning finds have been unearthed including a 14th Century stone grave coverstone, featuring a tree-of-life carving in near-perfect condition. The slab was excavated from under the cloister walk and covered the grave of one of the Abbey's Saristan. Explore the ancient undercrofts of the Abbey, built in 1196 for the “White Canons”, named for their distinctive white habits.

The canons who lived here over 800 years ago, when Torquay did not exist and there was only a collections villages and small hamlets, followed a strict regime of silence and prayer. Their austere lives contrasted with their great wealth, gained from taxes or ‘tithes’ of grain and other produce from the Abbey’s vast lands. The Tithe Barn, built to store the grain, became known as the Spanish Barn after it served as a prison for 397 sailors captured from the Spanish Armada. This is now a popular and unique venue for exhibitions, weddings and special events.

Throughout the ages Torre Abbey has welcomed many thousands of visitors: weary travellers cared for by the canons, aristocrats and naval officers hosted by the Carys and Olympic hopefuls attending the 1947 sailing events in the bay. Visitors are now once again welcome to explore Torquay’s oldest and most fascinating building.

Torre Abbey
The King's Drive
tel: 01803 293 593

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Tattoo Exhibition survey - win prizes!! / <span itemprop="startDate" content="2018-03-21T00:00:00Z">Wed 21 Mar 2018</span>Tattoo Exhibition survey - win prizes!! / Wed 21 Mar 2018

Have you been to see the Tattoo exhibition? Can you spare 5 minutes to give us some feedback? thanks in advance...

Volunteers needed to help at Tattoo Exhibition! / <span itemprop="startDate" content="2018-01-24T00:00:00Z">Wed 24 Jan 2018</span>Volunteers needed to help at Tattoo Exhibition! / Wed 24 Jan 2018

Volunteer Call Out Tattoo: British Art Tattoo Revealed 3 March – 3 June Torre Abbey Tattoo: British Tattoo Art Revealed is a genuinely ground-breaking and comprehensive history of British tattooing, featuring ...

Grinagog Festival nominated.... / <span itemprop="startDate" content="2017-10-05T00:00:00Z">Thu 05 Oct 2017</span>Grinagog Festival nominated.... / Thu 05 Oct 2017

Grinagog Festival has been nominated for Best New Festival at the UK Festival Awards. Please vote for us and share on social media so that all your friends can vote for us too. It would be nice to win and that would help...

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Tattoo: British Tattoo Art Revealed / <span itemprop="startDate" content="2018-03-03T00:00:00Z">Sat 03 Mar</span> to <span  itemprop="endDate" content="2018-06-03T00:00:00Z">Sun 03 Jun 2018</span> <span>(3 months)</span>Tattoo: British Tattoo Art Revealed / Sat 03 Mar to Sun 03 Jun 2018 (3 months)

Saturday 3 March – Sunday 3 June From ruffians to royalty; from sailors to socialites; from pilgrims to punks: tattoos have been etched into bodies throughout British history. Now a stunning new exhibition is coming t...

#TorbayTattooTales / <span itemprop="startDate" content="2018-03-04T00:00:00Z">Sun 04 Mar</span> to <span  itemprop="endDate" content="2018-06-02T00:00:00Z">Sat 02 Jun 2018</span> <span>(3 months)</span>#TorbayTattooTales / Sun 04 Mar to Sat 02 Jun 2018 (3 months)

What's the story behind your ink? Torre Abbey Museum launches #TorbayTattooTales as part of of the Tattoo: British Tattoo Art Revealed Exhibition Torbay Tattoo Tales aims to be the world’s largest digital collection of...

Source to Mouth - A series of lectures by John Risdon / <span itemprop="startDate" content="2018-02-02T00:00:00Z">Fri 02 Feb</span> to <span  itemprop="endDate" content="2018-03-16T00:00:00Z">Fri 16 Mar 2018</span> <span>(1 month)</span>Source to Mouth - A series of lectures by John Risdon / Fri 02 Feb to Fri 16 Mar 2018 (1 month)

An illustrated series of seven lectures given by John Risdon on the catchment of the River Teign, highlighting its incredibly varied landscape and communities and how they have evolved over the past centuries. Each lectu...

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Torre Abbey seeks Academic to review Tattoo Exhibition.... / Mon 05 Feb 2018

As part of a Heritage Lottery funded project, running alongside this major exhibition, Torre Abbey Museum will be collecting and curating (both online and in the gallery) images and tales of tattoos worn by Torbay reside...

Volunteer Tour Guides: Heritage & Collections / Mon 12 Oct 2015

We are seeking to recruit 5 volunteers as Tour Guides for Torre Abbey’s Historic House and Collections. Through training new volunteer guides, we hope to raise awareness of Torre Abbey’s stunning collections of Fine and ...

Digital Spotlight Volunteers / Mon 12 Oct 2015

We are seeking 2 Digital Volunteers for Torre Abbey’s new Spotlight Project. Spotlight aims to raise awareness of Torre Abbey’s stunning collections of Fine and Applied Art, Social History and Archaeology. Who are we ...

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Face2Face is coming.....Face2Face is coming.....

The Face2Face exhibition is on all summer @Torreabbey full details Here...

Torbay Tattoo TalesTorbay Tattoo Tales

Tattoos can reveal personal stories, represent shared history and identity, as well as showcase artistry—or sometimes they just are what they are! The Torbay Tattoo Tales film was commissioned as part of a wider proje...

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Judi Spiers on BBC Radio Devon interviews Rodney Peppé

‘It's marvellous stuff… it's one of those things you look at and you see something new every time…’ Listen to Rodney Peppé talking about his latest exhibition, The Wonderful World of Rodney Peppé at Torre Abbey. Full de...

Jo Loosemore on BBC Radio Devon interviewing Rodney Peppé

‘Prepare you‘re about to travel in a pirate kettle ship, possibly even a flying basket, a travel machine, a clockwork bus, in a lunar module egg box…. This is the wonderful world (…) of Rodney Peppé.’ Listen to Rodney P...